Only a 3-hour drive north of Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw is a popular destination due to its accessibility, dramatic scenery and small-town atmosphere. Nong Khiaw is packed with adventure, kayaking, trekking, mountain climbs, great restaurants, and places to stay. We visited as part of a longer Northern Laos trip to see what all the talk is about.
We departed for the 20km boat ride up diver to Nong Khiaw which took a leisurely hour. This gives you time to take in the mountainous karst limestone mountains and sights along the river – fishermen, kids swimming, buffalo drinking, occasionally another boat and the occasional waterfall.
We were staying at the Pakxang Hotel so we continued under the bridge and passed by the numerous guesthouses along the edge of the Nam Ou River. The Pakxang has wonderful rooms perfect for a romantic getaway and next door is the Mandala Ou with a private pool, great bar and fantastic staff – a magic place if you prefer to perhaps meet other guests around the bar.
One popular excursion is to visit Patok cave 3km from Nong Khiaw the cave is interesting to visit as is the walk nearby through rice fields where animals graze and farmers are often working. The caves were used by the Laos communist party during the Second Indochina War to shelter from bombs dropped in the area
We stopped off for a drink mid-afternoon to rest and refresh ourselves.
At 4.30 we walked to the Sleeping Woman Viewpoint (not far from the Manda Ou Resort. This is a good time to hit the viewpoints as it is cooler and you get back before dark. Allow for an hour up and another hour down plus time at the top. You do not want to do this in the dark, it is steep and more demanding than some of the other viewpoints.
The views are amazing and the perfect way to end an afternoon before finding a great place to eat. Other viewpoints are: Phar Khew Lom 360 Viewpoint, Pha Kao Viewpoint and the well-known Pha Daeng Peak Viewpoint – Nong Khiaw Viewpoint.
We chose Joy’s restaurant for dinner beside Sunrise Guesthouse at the end of the bridge (next to the BCEL ATM). Superb views and food.
Tiger Trail operates tours in Nong Khiaw from their Luang Prabang office including the Patok Cares tour, the 100 Waterfalls tour discovered by Tiger Trail, 3 days to Nong Khiaw and back and a 7 day Nong Khiaw hidden paradise tour.